"And by all means, do not refer to the investigation as an exercise in risk management!"

2974 reads

There are 6 Comments

Jim's picture

Suggestion to First Baptist Hammond community:


DON’T do this:


Anyone with knowledge or suspicion of criminal violations, misconduct, wasteful activities or allegations of civil rights or civil liberties abuse by a First Baptist Church Ministries employee or volunteer should report specific information to our Risk Management Office.

Instead call the police!

Seriously. FBCH has some serious credibility issues.


Source of the below image: http://www.fbchammond.com/contact/report-employee-misconduct/

Susan R's picture


They should never have included criminal violations in with this list. Sure- notify Risk Management of internal issues such as waste or other non-criminal kinds of misconduct- but criminal activity be reported to law enforcement. Period. 

Ron Bean's picture

I attended a David Gibbs seminar for churches and Christian schools. While there were a large number of good pieces of advice on areas like finances, I seem to recall that his Risk Management advice looked like the one you have posted here. Having seen Risk Management policies in other venues, this was a red flag to me. Staff should be given the Hotline numbers for the authorities and contact them directly.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Brent Marshall's picture

Ron, I was interested in your reaction to Gibb's seminars. I had lost track of his work until last year.

I will say that there was room for risk-management principles to make a positive contribution at an earlier stage. Consider how things might have worked differently if the following guidance had been implemented and followed:

1. Each ministerial staff member, youth worker, and bus worker will avoid privately meeting with a member of the opposite sex other than his or her spouse.

2. No ministerial staff member, youth worker, or bus worker will privately travel or lodge with a member of the opposite sex other than his or her spouse.

3. No ministerial staff member, youth worker, or bus worker will privately counsel a minor other than his own child. All counseling of minors will take place in the presence of a parent/guardian of the minor or the presence of another staff member.

We might disagree on the precise lines to be drawn, but I hope that the point is clear.

Of course, as I discuss in my blog post, in churches we generally do not call this "risk management." It typically goes under labels like "prudence," "wise behavior," and "not making provision for the flesh." I do not mean to be cute. However, some principles of this type are pretty basic.


Things That Matter

As the quantity of communication increases, so does its quality decline; and the most important sign of this is that it is no longer acceptable to say so.--RScruton

Ron Bean's picture

I'm trying to recall the details of the seminar I attended. (I can't find the book that was distributed but it may be available at the CLA web site.

Much of the seminar had to do with finances, private enurement (The pastor can't set his own salary and benefits and all "gifts' to the pastor were taxable income).

I remember the part dealing with allegations of abuse and had previously worked for a secular business that had a similar policy. The difference was, if I remember correctly, Gibbs presented a policy where allegations "could" be reported to the administration and then directed to authorities whereas the secular company's policy was for workers to call the authorities directly. I opted for the latter.

Gibbs also comes from a background where deacons advise but have no authority so dealing with a disqualified pastor wasn't dealt with.

Again, I'm going on my memory of meeting at least 8 years ago.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Larry's picture


Criminal activity should also be reported internally. Part of risk management (or whatever you want to call it) is knowing what is going on in your organization. Part of this is enabling you to nip things in the bud, as well as to deal with things from a position of knowledge. The last thing you want is to be blind-sided by a call from a police officer or a news reporter asking why you didn't do something about criminal activity. You will look really stupid when you say, "I didn't know about it."

Furthermore, actions that may not be illegal may be against company policy. If you only report to the civil authorities, the behavior is not prosecuted because it isn't illegal. However, the company or organization cannot act in accordance with company or organizational policy.

So here again is a situation where well meaning people give poor advice. To say that it is one or the other (report internal OR report to the authorities) is a false dichotomy. Report to both.